Welcome to the future
UF recently debuted its new home for medical education.
By Karen Dooley
After years of dreaming, planning and construction, the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building opened its doors July 29 with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially becoming home for UF’s medical and physician assistant students.
Nearly 500 people spilled out from the white tent to the landscaped lawn during the formal portion of the event, which included speeches from key UF and UF Health leaders.
“This new building provides a model for the entire university — architecturally and pedagogically,” said UF president Kent Fuchs, Ph.D., during the event. “In this model, teaching is an important driver of our university’s rise among the best universities in the country.”
When the summer rain began to fall, attendees eagerly fled to the shelter of the facility. But not even the sudden storm could dampen the mood inside the building, where students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors mingled and explored the state-of-the-art facility through a self-guided tour.
The sounds of chatter and music wafted through the space, and amid the hustle and bustle of the grand-opening event, students milled about on the second floor, chatting with classmates, lingering near lockers and laying claim to their new stomping grounds.
“I think (the building) is beautiful,” said first-year medical student Taylor Dayton, who received her bachelor’s degree from UF. “I feel pretty lucky to be the first class that gets to use it.”
The 95,000-square-foot facility was designed to support the UF College of Medicine’s updated medical education curriculum and provide a dynamic environment in which students can hone the skills necessary to respond to society’s changing health care landscape.
“The building exemplifies how to design a space around a forward-looking curriculum,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “It will provide an identity that our students and faculty can be proud of as they set the standard for medical education.”
The $46 million facility, located on the north edge of the UF Health Science Center campus on Newell Drive across from the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute, includes spaces for collaboration, quiet study and reflection, and hands-on interprofessional education.
Named after the college’s visionary founding dean, who pioneered the expansion of the UF Health Science Center in the 1950s, the four-story building features a specially designed atrium surrounded by glass, metal and wood accents, providing a bright and welcoming entrance that fosters interaction among students, trainees, faculty and staff.
Construction of the Harrell Medical Education Building was driven largely by philanthropy, with $31 million raised for the building by alumni and friends of UF.
The facility houses two 4,600-square-foot circular learning studios wired to accommodate collaborative and applied learning activities and also includes a learning and assessment center featuring 18 standardized patient examination rooms, two hospital rooms and several classrooms.
The experiential learning theater on the fourth floor can be configured to represent hundreds of simulated health care scenarios to help bring clinical situations to life and teach students, residents and health care professionals new and complicated, high-risk skills.
“The best medicine and patient care are delivered by interdisciplinary clinical teams — physicians, physician assistants, nurses, therapists and many other health professionals — who come together in examination rooms, operating rooms, intensive care units and many other spaces to help patients heal,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, M.D. “With that in mind, we have moved from the lecture hall to active, team-based learning in the same type of small-group environments that our students will encounter as practicing physicians and physician assistants.”